, Birmingham City team news and predicted XI to face Middlesbrough with key duo doubtful

Birmingham City team news and predicted XI to face Middlesbrough with key duo doubtful

Birmingham City travel to the Riverside Stadium to face a managerless Middlesbrough tonight.

The unbeaten run of John Eustace’s close-knit squad extended to four games last time out as they earned a commendable 1-1 draw at the home of league-leaders Sheffield United. Blues had to defend resolutely for the majority of the match but in truth were largely untroubled by an uncharacteristically blunt Blades attack.

Next up for Blues is the long trip to Middlesbrough where Chris Wilder was relived of his duties on Monday morning after recording only two wins in Boro’s opening 11 second tier fixtures, leaving them just inside the relegation zone.

Nevertheless, Birmingham City will know to expect a tough battle against a side that have only lost once in six home games so far.

Birmingham City team news

Eustace provided a detailed account of Blues’ injury situation in his pre-match press conference on Monday afternoon.

Notable concern was raised about the availability of midfield duo Krystian Bielik and Tahith Chong, who are both doubts for Wednesday night following heavy knocks sustained against Sheffield United on the weekend.

Chong was brought down cyclically by Ollie Norwood in the 76th minute and was substituted five minutes later.

Polish international Bielik managed to last the game’s duration after being caught by Jayden Bogle, but both Bielek and Chong were seen with heavy strapping around their legs following the hard-fought draw at Bramall Lane.

On a more positive note, Harlee Dean will make the next step on his recovery from a pre-season injury when he turns out for the U23’s side on Tuesday night.

Marc Roberts (hamstring), Gary Gardner (calf) and Przemysław Płacheta (shin) all remain sidelined for several more weeks, leaving Blues a few injuries away from a full-blown crisis going into a congested period of fixtures.

Predicted XI  (3-5-2)

Ruddy

Colin

Sanderson

Trusty

Graham

James

Hannibal

Longelo

Bacuna

Hogan

Deeney

Assuming both Bielik and Chong are unavailable due to their knocks, we expect two changes to the side that returned from Bramall Lane with a respectable point.

Jordan James would likely replace Bielik at the base of Birmingham City midfield, whereas Manchester United loanee Hannibal Mejbri could make his full debut for the club, taking up a starting berth alongside James and Juninho Bacuna in the centre of the park.

Emmanuel Longelo played his first ever 90 minutes in senior football at left wing-back for Blues on the weekend, despite limited minutes for the U23’s following a spell sidelined with injury. This makes him more likely than most to be rotated out against Boro, but after a solid display against Sheffield United the West Ham loanee will be raring to go again at the Riverside.

The game kicks off at 19:45 on Wednesday night.

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